Delta to tighten rules on service and emotional support dogs

Orchard Park, N.Y. (WKBW) - Starting March 1st, Delta Airlines will require people traveling with service or emotional support animals to upload specific information at least 48 hours before a flight. Travelers will also need a doctor's note saying the animal is needed.

That’s welcome news for the owner and trainer of Leia, an Australian Kelpie service dog.

“She literally is my right leg,” said Kimberly Lovetro, Leia’s owner.

After having part of her leg amputated, Kimberly Lovetro had Leia trained to help her with tasks that her disability made difficult. While researching service dogs, she discovered a common theme.

“I found the $49.95 register your dog, get the vest, get the ID,” said Lovetro.

On certain websites you can purchase a letter stating a dog is an emotional support animal. An emotional support animal doesn't mean it's a service animal. Only service animals are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Rebecca Klinger of Sit n’ Stay pet services trained Leia. She says people need to understand that service dogs have far more rights than an emotional support animal.

“It's definitely a step forward what Delta is doing. As a service dog trainer, I would love to see more regulations,” said Klinger.

While they hope for regulation, first comes education. Businesses are allowed to ask if the animal is a service animal and what service the animal provides. They are also allowed to remove a service animal from the business if the dog is acting up. They are not allowed to ask for paper work.

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